The Texas Rising Star program is a voluntary quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) for child care programs participating in the Texas Workforce Commission’s (TWC) subsidized child care program. Texas Rising Star certification is available to licensed centers and licensed and registered child care home facilities that meet the certification criteria.
The Texas Rising Star program offers three levels of quality certification (2-Star, 3-Star, and 4-Star) to encourage child care and early learning programs to attain progressively higher levels of quality. These certification levels are tied to graduated enhanced reimbursement rates for children receiving subsidies.
Numerous research studies have shown that children who attend higher-quality early learning programs are more prepared for school entry than children who do not attend high-quality programs. Child care and early learning programs that voluntarily achieve Texas Rising Star certification, offering quality care that exceeds the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Child Care Regulation (CCR) minimum standards, are in a better position to positively affect the physical, social-emotional, and cognitive development of children. As programs advance through the levels of Texas Rising Star certification, they are increasingly able to positively affect the development of the children they serve daily.
History of Texas Rising Star
The movement to improve and standardize quality in child care and early learning programs began in the 1970s but did not gain momentum until the 1990s, when states began to implement tiered quality rating and improvement systems (TQRIS) and to tie enhanced subsidy reimbursement rates to levels of quality. The following is a brief history of the evolution of TQRIS in Texas:
- In the 1980s, a state workgroup was formed to research and develop standards for early learning programs in Texas, providing the basis for the Texas Rising Star Provider Certification
- From 1991 through 2000, the Texas Rising Star Provider Certification criteria were in use to evaluate quality in subsidized child care and early learning programs in Texas.
- In 1999, a new state workgroup formed to review and revise these criteria.
- In October 2000, the Texas Rising Star Provider Certification Guidelines (Guidelines) were released, reflecting the recommendations of the workgroup, including revamping assessment and certification processes.
- In 2003, TWC updated the recertification and monitoring time frames for certified Texas Rising Star programs.
- In 2009, Texas Governor Rick Perry established the Texas Early Learning Council (TELC), an advisory council tasked with developing a plan to improve early care and education in Texas.
- In September 2013, TELC released recommendations for the state to develop a statewide, cross-sector QRIS for Texas. One of the recommendations included Texas Rising Star as the basis for a QRIS in Texas. Additionally, in September of that year, the 83rd Texas Legislature passed House Bill (HB) 376, which required TWC to:
- create a review workgroup to recommend revisions to the Texas Rising Star program;
- establish graduated reimbursement rates for Texas Rising Star certification levels; and
- make funds available to Local Workforce Development Boards (Boards) to hire Texas Rising Star mentors and assessors to provide technical assistance to child care and early learning programs.
- On January 27, 2015, TWC approved the changes proposed by the Texas Rising Star review workgroup, as required by HB 376. Full implementation of the revisions was completed September 1, 2015.
- In late 2015 and early 2016, TWC solicited further input on the Texas Rising Star program and the 2015 revisions. Based on the input from these stakeholder meetings, TWC modified the Guidelines to streamline the application and assessment process and to clarify and improve criteria.
- In 2018, TWC commissioned the Texas Rising Star Implementation Study to examine the reliability of the assessment and indicators of external validity of certification criteria.
- In 2019, TWC convened a workgroup to review the Texas Rising Star program, as required by HB 376. With support from TWC, the workgroup led an expansive and collaborative review of the program that involved stakeholders from across the state.
- In January 2020, TWC’s three-member Commission (Commission) approved a set of recommendations to publish for public comment. The Commission conducted seven public meetings across the state in February 2020 on these recommendations. For the remainder of 2020, TWC revised and improved program criteria, tools, and resources to support implementation. Recommended modifications to the Texas Rising Star program became effective January 25, 2021.
TWC continually monitors the Texas Rising Star program and conducts reviews at least every four years.